Volvo’s sandpit success


A team of Volvo machines is helping to transform rocks into money at Monteagle’s sand quarry in Tennessee, USA.

Larry Anderson is what you might call a ‘sand connoisseur’. He has spent the last 40 years in the sand business, blasting it out of the ground, refining it and shipping it all over the country. People who know him say he can determine its quality just by holding it between his fingers and listening to the sound of the grains as they rub against each other.

Quality is what matters at Monteagle Sand LLC, which Anderson manages just outside of Chattanooga in East Tennessee, USA. Piles of sand emerge from a processor there for ready-mix concrete plants, asphalt plants and sewage treatment plants. Monteagle even custom manufactures sand for golf course greens.

“I’ve done this all my life. I can make you any type of sand you want,” says Anderson, standing in the shadow of his Volvo A40D articulated hauler, freshly filled with shot rock from Monteagle’s sand pit.

Meet the sand shifter
The Volvo A40D spends its days moving huge rocks and sand into Monteagle’s sand processor, where it’s crushed, screened, washed and transformed into premium sand.

The raw material is blasted out of a 35-foot deep sand pit and then dug out with a Volvo L350F wheel loader. “The ‘war horse’, that’s what I like to call it,” says Anderson. “That loader spends its days moving enormous rocks and sand, gathering them up like pebbles.”

Meanwhile, a Volvo L220F loader zips around the sand yard, loading trucks that pull into the facility, which are headed to any number of places in the surrounding states. And while that’s going on, a Volvo EC210LR excavator works to clean out any puddles of water on the property.

Turning to Volvo
Monteagle Sand turned to Volvo five years ago when it was looking to upgrade its fleet of equipment. Company owner Bill Ramsey started the company 45 years ago when he borrowed enough money to buy an old dump truck. “My wife thought I had lost my mind,” he says. But Ramsey’s small business venture proved a success and after three years he sold his dump truck and purchased another. The company grew by leaps and bounds and today Monteagle owns a sand pit that churns out product and a barge terminal beside the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

The barge terminal is all about efficiency. The yard spends days receiving calcine – a by-product of the copper smelting business – that comes from a nearby copper facility in the Tennessee hills. More than 170 trucks per day bring in loads of the powdery material, which eventually is moved onto river barges that take it downstream to cargo ships bound for China.


Tough equipment that does the job
Ramsey and his employees know they require tough, reliable equipment to do the job. The company’s Volvo L220E does the loading; in eight hours, it can move 4,000 tons of calcine – two barges per day. “It’s hard work; it’s no easy task,” says Ramsey. “Calcine is such a light material that it kicks up a lot of dust, even though crews attempt to keep the piles of the material watered down.” Ramsey’s operators change the filters in the equipment at regular intervals. “We run this machine day in and day out, and it’s not given us a minute’s worth of trouble,” he says. But it’s the fuel efficiency of these Volvo wheel loaders that has Ramsey hooked. “That’s the best part about them as far as I’m concerned,” he says. “They’re so much more efficient. You run 60 gallons a day versus 100 gallons a day. You don’t need a third-grade education to figure that out,” he says. In these times, that’s a savings of $100 a day, $2,000 a month and $24,000 a year. “It’s real money,” Ramsey says.

Saving gallons, saving dollars
The story is no different 45 miles away at Monteagle Sand, where Ramsey’s Volvo L350F loader moves sand fast, wheeling rock that recently had been blasted out of the strip mine into the company’s Volvo A40D hauler.

The machine never stops moving, constantly freeing loads of rock and sand from the pit and then delivering them bucket by bucket into the hauler. It used to be that the company would move 40 to 42 loads out of the quarry each day, sending them up to the company’s processing plant. With Volvo, the cycle times have improved dramatically. The Volvo L350F – with its powerful 528 hp, D16E engine – can load 60 trucks in a day. “It’s night and day difference,” says Anderson.

The same story can be told about fuel consumption – 50 to 60 gallons per day. That’s thanks to Volvo’s highflow, low-rpm load-sensing hydraulics and all-Volvo powertrain, among other highly efficient systems. It provides just the right amount of flow and pressure when it’s needed, saving precious fuel. “It’s been very, very dependable,” Anderson says. “I’ve got no complaints. I’d recommend Volvo to anybody.”

June, 2011

Picture 1: A Volvo A350F wheel loader and A40D articulated hauler get the job done in Monteagle's sand quarry.
Picture 2: Larry Anderson has spent 40 years in the sand business and is nothing but satisfied with his Volvo equipment.

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